Hospitals in England have been given the green light to ease some of the Covid infection-control measures that have been in place during the pandemic.
The changes, recommended by the UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA), are aimed at easing pressure on the NHS.
It says testing and isolating patients before planned operations can be dropped and hospitals can return to normal cleaning procedures.
Social distancing can also be reduced from 2m (6ft) to 1m in some areas.
UKHSA chief executive Dr Jenny Harries said the new recommendations would help local hospitals plan more elective care.
"This is a first step to help the NHS treat more patients more quickly, while ensuring their safety and balancing their different needs for care," she said.
Health and Social Care Secretary Sajid Javid said: "As ever more people benefit from the protection of our phenomenal vaccination campaign, we can now safely begin to relieve some of the most stringent infection controls where they are no longer necessary, to benefit patients and ease the burden on hardworking NHS staff."
Source: BBC News, 28 September 2021